Martial Arts Training: A Powerful “Kick-Start” To Your Child’s Bright Future!
If you’ve ever been even a little curious about whether martial arts training might be good for your child… congratulations, because you’ve just cracked open the door to an incredible opportunity, that of giving your child a true gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime. This is not hyperbole. Today, almost 25 years since my sons and I first stepped into a dojo, I continue to see its impact on all that they do, all that they have become. Introducing them to martial arts stands right up there with the best decisions I ever made as a parent.
At the tender age of four, my first child started training. Two years later, his younger brother joined him, and for the next decade and a half, Martial Arts became not just an extra-curricular activity or sport that my boys would participate in, it became a way of life that enriched them – and our family – in ways that I am genuinely excited to share.
At the beginning of every class the students would recite the “tenets” of the school, the guiding principles that they committed to exemplify. My favorite among them was that of “indomitable spirit.” Not a word you hear every day, and I’ll admit, I had to look it up to be sure it was what I thought it meant! Turns out, this reference to a spirit of “unconquerable courage” was like a spark that once lit within them, could never be extinguished.
I believe it was that spark that would inspire them to push through years of training, often multiple times a week, through snowstorms and homework that would start after dark following Martial Arts class, through tournaments where they did not always come home with 1st place trophies, but always with their heads held high, through multiple moves and new martial arts schools where they had to adapt to unfamiliar styles of training. But through it all, they both went on to attain the rank of 3rd degree Black Belt by their mid-teens, they organized and ran their school’s first-ever summer camp, performed on the school’s demo team, became certified instructors, and went on to create and lead Martial Arts clubs on their college campuses. Indomitable spirit in action!
While the martial arts are indeed a study of self-defense techniques, the learning that happens goes well beyond the kicks and punches that are commonly associated with the art. Yes, all that you have heard about building coordination, strength, flexibility, overall fitness is true. And yes, you can also confidently expect to see your child display unprompted politeness, respect, discipline, and focus. Shy kids stand tall. Tough kids show humility.
If I could single out that which best exemplifies what the martial arts represent to us, it is not their awe-inspiring ability to power through five boards with a stepping side kick (which, by the way, never ceases to be a moment that you, the parent, hold your breath and get a lump in your throat!), it is the unspoken integrity, poise, and confidence that these children, now adults, embody and project to the world every day through their firm handshake, their determination to take on challenges, their calm under pressure, the respect with which they treat others.
It goes all the way back to the respect shown to the sacred space where young students train by removing shoes and bowing each time they enter or exit the mats. It extends to the instant attention students display as they are called to line up and begin with a warm-up drill. It permeates through the entire lesson in which they are shown moves and techniques that will be practiced thousands of times over the course of their training, each time sharpening their stances, elevating their kicks, more powerfully directing the force of their punches.
The culture of the school begins at the top and is, in my book, among the most important factors that determine what a child will take away from the experience. Through more than a little research and a healthy dose of good fortune, we found exceptional schools, led by an extraordinary Masters who would become more than instructors, they were true and trusted mentors and became lifelong friends who, to this day, keep in touch with both boys and cheer them on in their now young adult life pursuits.
The benefits of martial arts training are abundant; they are also proportional to the commitment you and your child make to this journey. Take the first step and prepare to watch your child thrive in body, mind, and spirit!